Inspiring Women Series – Menna Shaalan

Inspiring Women Series are to showcase some of the successful modest women out there, who succeed not inspite of their hijab but because of it.

تهدف مجموعة النساء الملهمة إلى تسليط الضوء علي بعض النساء المحجبات الناجحات ، اللاتي لا ينجحن رغم حجابهن ولكن بسببه

Menna Shaalan, 30 years, full-time Mommy, entrepreneur since 2019. Design passionate, practicality seeker, innovation driven and Footwear founder & designer at Calzola.

1- Tell us more about you, what did you study and what did you work before Calzola?

I studied applied arts and sciences in GUC, graduated with bachelor’s degree in product design

Menna Styling her Blush Elegance

2- How do you manage your time being a mompreneur?

It was challenging, too much responsibilities and with living abroad, I was trying to make the healthy balance between managing home, family and working. I didn’t panic about the trending marketing strategies and was dependent on the organic reach, that was my way of keeping my inner peace.

Menna styling her Fairy Oaks

3- What’s the meaning of “Calzola” and the inspiration behind it?

The name says a lot about the brand, and I needed a name that’s easy, exciting and valuable. So I chose Calzola. It is derived from the Italian term “calzolaio” which means shoemaker. I chose this name because I just wanted to pay tribute to shoemakers who design every shoe professionally.

Menna styling her Honey Blooms in Satin

4- What was most challenging for you on the personal and professional level while taking this step?

After graduating from product design, I was unfulfilled, I wanted to use my study to start my own fashion brand. I believe that studying and learning are essential to success so I applied for two fashion courses in Egypt. I learned everything about designing, starting with the patron, to manifesting every detail I imagine into the drawings and designs. I contributed in a fashion show and I did some great designs, from A to Z, I even designed the footwear of the outfit and was selected from the top 8 finals. It was a very important step in my life, and it made me more passionate, so I made a ready to wear brand in Egypt but then suddenly we had to immigrate. Honestly, I was disappointed, but after travelling and settling, I thought why not start here.

Menna styling her Blush Elegance

What was so challenging as well were my inner doubts, I had thoughts like people would think “why would I buy from Calzola if I can buy from Nike and Adidas” but I proved otherwise through our materials and designs. All of them are genuine leather, and the outsoles from Italy, it wasn’t easy to start a business like this, but what made it worth it is hearing our customers feedback. And we’re so grateful for this.

5- What would you advice women who want to start their businesses?

Two things, to ask herself “what do you want to be” I remember asking myself this question & the answer was always that I want to be a designer. The most important thing is to understand your zone of genius, what are you good at? And start working towards that. The second point, is to get away from fear of success, and think about success itself. Know that you have to find your own way, you don’t have to copy anyone. Because the secret in business is that there is no secret, it’s the hard work that pays off. It might feel overwhelming, I’ve been there and I totally understand it. Most important thing is dream, big dreams, and follow them, & you’ll reach them one day.

Menna styling her Blush Elegance

6- We read this beautiful quote on your website “It feels good to be lost in the right direction” but a lot of people fear the risk, what would you tell them as a push to take a leap of faith?

I felt this quote when I was so lost after immigrating, I was walking in a certain direction and I lost all that all of a sudden, but feeling lost in an other direction helped me find myself and my passion.. I’d say to anyone fearing the risk,  be flexible, just start from anywhere, you have a dream, you must follow it.

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